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Child Passenger Safety Week

September 14, 2011

Child Passenger Safety Week began Sunday, September 18, and ended with Seat Check Saturday. Read the details and watch a new crash-test video produced by UMTRI that illustrates the importance of using a car seat.

Two children are involved in a car crash--one child walks away frightened and the other is taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. The difference? A properly installed car seat.

A new crash test video (below), produced by UMTRI and featuring child-size dummies, illustrates that scenario and shows exactly what can happen if a child is not properly secured in a car seat.

During the test, two 33-pound crash test dummies representing 3-year-old children were placed in the rear seat of a vehicle, one in a forward facing car seat and one completely unrestrained.

The dummies were then subject to a lab test simulating a moderate-to-severe crash at about 30 miles per hour. In the time it takes to blink an eye, the unrestrained dummy was launched forward into the front passenger seat and then ejected from the side of the back seat experiencing severe head and neck impact, while the dummy in the car seat was thrown forward only slightly and pulled back by the harness and seat belt.

"This test illustrates the significant difference between the two experiences. The restrained child would likely walk away with minor bruises and scrapes while the unrestrained child would likely be killed or seriously injured," said UMTRI senior engineering research associate Miriam Manary.

The tests bring to light the importance of using a properly fitted car seat as Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Week begins Sunday and concludes on September 24 with Seat Check Saturday.

"Car seats save the lives of children every day, and while most parents are using seats for babies and young children, children need to continue to use seats until they are 8 years old or 4'9" tall," said Office of Highway Safety Planning Director Michael L. Prince. "It is also important that parents use the correct seat for their child, and visiting a trained, certified CPS technician is the best way to be sure car seats are properly fitted and installed."

CPS Week is a national initiative to raise awareness for car seat use and encourage parents to have their children's car seats installed and inspected by a certified CPS technician.

CPS technicians were out in force during Seat Check Saturday participating in seat checks around the state. For a list of seat checks in your area visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website.

Photo and video by Charles Bradley, UMTRI Biosciences Group.